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Encoder Technology Enables Next Level of Robotics Accuracy

At the recent AUTOMATICA  exhibition in Germany HEIDENHAIN presented a single device that provides position feedback from both the motor shaft and gearbox output shaft of a robot joint: the HEIDENHAIN KCI 120 Dplus dual encoder. Using robust inductive scanning technology, the encoder’s scanning head reads two separate circular scales for dual feedback. By measuring the gearbox output shaft, the KCI 120 Dplus can counteract design-induced inaccuracy on highly articulated and dynamic robots.

To ensure compatibility with as many applications as possible, the dual encoder comes in three variants featuring different hollow-shaft sizes and mounting dimensions for the scanning unit and two disk/hub assemblies. All three versions of the KCI 120 Dplus are compact, easy to integrate and equal in functionality.

The innovative KCI 120 Dplus widens the horizon of robot applications, making even high-accuracy machining tasks possible. Due to its EnDat 2.2 serial data interface, which is designed for functional safety, this dual encoder also thrives in safety-critical applications such as cobots.

HEIDENHAIN also showcased its next generation of inductive scanning technology, embodied in the ECI 1122 and EQI 1134 rotary encoders. Designed for high-performance automation, these new encoders feature low noise, low speed ripple and extensive operating data. Thanks to their EnDat 3 interface, they can be connected using the HMC 2 single-cable solution.

On the outside, the new inductive rotary encoders look identical to the other models within the series. But their specs tell a different story, especially their improved singleturn position resolution of 22 bits. This higher resolution significantly reduces the speed ripple and the position noise of the motor. The new ECI 1122 and EQI 1134 rotary encoders are perfect solutions for the current trends in automation toward higher accuracy, performance, process reliability and cost efficiency.

Inductive Scanning Technology

At the heart of the new rotary encoders and their inductive scanning technology is a new ASIC with 180-nanometer technology, providing the perfect combination of reliability, robustness and miniaturization. Another highlight and a completely new approach for a sensor ASIC is their application-specific integrated processor (ASIP). The ASIP enables the collection of operating data about the encoder and the motor to a new extent and at a critical location in the overall system. After all, no other electronic device is located so close to the motor. The collected operating data, including loads, operating times and motor temperatures, provide a reliable basis for optimizing operation, maximizing service life, streamlining maintenance and much more.

For the first time, this new generation of inductive rotary encoders implements EnDat 3 directly on a scanning ASIC as a single-chip solution. This enables use of the HMC 2 single-cable solution, which combines data and power wires in a single cable extending from the motor to the control. The benefits are less cabling, higher data rates and reduced space requirements. But that’s not all. The new ASIC, with its high-performance EnDat 3 interface, sets the stage for future developments, such as acceleration sensors that could feed directly into the EnDat 3 signal. And unlike previous solutions, no additional sensor boxes (or their cables) are needed for communication with the control.

Over time, this next-generation inductive measurement technology will be implemented in the full range of HEIDENHAIN inductive encoders.

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